Growing citizens in our schools…

The following is an excerpted message from Jim Strickland, founder of ASCEND, on the Marysville ASCEND Mailing List. It is reposted here with permission from the author.

I thought about our discussion the other night at Alfy’s when I was reading this passage from Earl Kelley’s In Defense of Youth (1962):

We must have teachers who really believe in democracy…I am taking the position here that the school is in itself a society with many of the problems of any society; that it is a ready-made society in which young people can learn how to be citizens by practice; that in order for anyone to become a good citizen he has to see himself as a citizen, he has to perceive himself as a person who is a factor in what goes on; that no one ever does anything voluntarily unless he sees it as worth doing; that the school is his school and that he can have some small influence on what it is…

Do the youth in our schools feel that they are part of it?  Do they think they have any chance to alter what goes on?  Do they have a feeling of involvement necessary to sustain their self-concept as citizens?  Perhaps some of the most successful have these feelings, but what about Joe Doakes in the back seat?  In a very few years Joe is going to vote on school bonds.  Are we making some mistakes in what we believe makes citizens?

Words to think about as we move forward in ASCEND…. have a great weekend!